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Major Spotlight: Caleb Conway

This CLA Selmer Birkelo Scholarship winner toggles between text and performance
January 22, 2020

Year: Junior
Hometown: Ellsworth, WI

Why did you choose to major in English?

Growing up, I had a difficult time learning to manage the constant flow of thoughts in my mind; I spent a lot of time inside my head as a kid. Reading and writing gave me a way to channel that constant thinking into something that was both enjoyable and helpful for my development. English literature was also the first medium that really allowed me to experience different perspectives while also giving me the tools to craft my own. When the time came for me to choose a major, I knew it would be English.

"English literature was the first medium
that allowed me to experience different
perspectives while also giving me the
tools to craft my own."

What has been your favorite part of your experience in the department?

Interacting with the professors. The English professors I’ve had care deeply about both their students and the material they teach. When I started college, I was afraid that professors wouldn’t see students as individuals, that I would be just another face in a class. That couldn’t be further from the truth with the professors in this department.

Are you pursuing any majors, minors, internships, or interests outside your English major?

In addition to my English major, I’m pursuing a minor in Theatre Arts. Many of the skills I’ve developed in my English courses, such as critical thinking and textual analysis, have been essential in my theatre courses as well. I believe that seeing how written works can transform in performance has certainly improved my ability to think critically in my study of English. I write songs in my spare time, and I believe that’s also been beneficial as an exercise in writing and presenting ideas.

What English course would you recommend for majors? For non-majors who want to take an English class?

An English course I would recommend to anyone is ENGL 3505: "Protest Literature & Community Action" with Senior Lecturer Eric Daigre. The course involves reading some incredibly powerful pieces of literature while also volunteering in the Twin Cities community. I believe that when we step outside of the classroom, we are able to better appreciate how literature can connect us to our communities and our world.

Best book or movie you've read/seen recently?

I recently watched the animated film My Neighbor Totoro for the first time, and it made me cry at least three times. It’s a simple film about the feeling of being a child, and I believe it is a masterpiece. (I recommend the original Japanese version with English subtitles.)